By Patrick Alcatraz
PALM BEACH, Fla. - Saturday nights were the best for me inside The Lizard Lounge here. Every chick looked like Lauren Bacall, wrinkled mavens from another era. I felt like a Cuban star from the 1950s. The ornate joint rested somewhere in the innards of the Chesterfield Hotel, magnet to the super-rich, the prostitutes, and my colleagues from The Palm Beach Post. I went there often, at times after swatting golf balls at a golf range across the causeway in West Palm Beach. When in paradise, you have to do things that are sort of parasidic (is that a word?). I danced and drank and fooled around with the older women. This was in the mid-1990s, so I was a bit younger and still invested in the game.
I'd been seeing this young reporter who covered the police beat and her idea of a good time was to buy a few bottles of Johnny Walker and go home. I can still see her throwing her shoes off to climb atop her bed to switch off the bedroom lightbulb. The daughter of the Dominican Republic wasn't even thinking about her future, in journalism or anything else. She liked to drink and drink hard, and after that she liked to do it all. The Lizard Lounge bored her, but she trudged along with me, 'cause I liked to see the old Geezers angle off to make their moves at the wrinkling broads. It was something to hear a Rolling Stones song crashing off the walls of the lounge while watching the crowd taking secret sips of Maalox.
Who knows what happened, but my petite friend went cold on me late that winter. She was in her early 20s, fresh out of the U. of Miami. I'd walk into the newsroom and she'd turn away. I didn't give a damn. My days were hard fuckers and my nights were fucking hard. It was life as a two-page chapter bridging into another two-page chapter. One day, I was walking back from the newspaper cafeteria when I saw her walking in my direction. She looked beat-up, a drinker's face, hanging and sallow. "Hidee, kid," I said from five feet. She tried to smile, but the crooked, hangdog look she threw at me seemed more painful than happy.
"I waited on you all weekend," she said laconically, her heart in her throat, her ass on a long rope.
"I wait and wait and wait...and you never show."
There was nothing else for me to do: We met after deadline at a seafood place and she talked herself all-out, letting go of whatever she had against me, most of which would never convict in a court of true romance. In the end, she said she hated The Lizard Lounge 'cause it was so fake and 'cause I seemed to laugh at everyone. "It's not Disneyworld," she would say. "It's people, people out having a good time..."
That was so. Disappointing women has been a strength of mine, not one nurtured, just one out there. When I left the newspaper, she asked for my mailing address. I gave her an invented one. It served as measure of my biggest strength - an ability to frickin' let-go. But it's also true: I'd like to see her again, tell her she was right about me, and kiss her for an hour. I like petite women, but only if they come with proportional breasts...
- 30 -